- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. For the first time, the public is getting a large-scale view of the CIA's and KGB's real-life James Bond-type gadgets, from a replica of the Russians' deadly poison-dart umbrella to some of the Americans' most ingeniously concealed cameras.
The exhibit, which opened to the public yesterday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, includes dozens of items borrowed from the CIA's collection in Langley, many of them never before shown to the public.
"Questions have been asked about why we invest so much money in the intelligence community," said Lloyd Salvetti, director of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. "We thought we should team with the president's library to get out our message about why we exist."
The exhibit also includes items from private collector Keith Melton, and features some fictitious materials as well.
There's the shoe-phone Don Adams, as secret agent Maxwell Smart, wore in the 1960s television comedy series "Get Smart," and the Dr. Evil ring Mike Myers wore in the film "Austin Powers." Also on display is a pair of Diana Rigg's leather pants from the hit British TV spy series "The Avengers."
The real spy equipment dates as far back as the Revolutionary War. Among the cameras on display is one from 1885 that could be concealed on a person's body. Others, from World War I, were mounted on carrier pigeons. A popular Cold War version slipped into the back of a leather glove.
The world's first microdot, a document shrunken down to a tiny point, is also on display. It dates back to 1852.
From the early days of the CIA's predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, there are tire spikes, bombs and "liberator pistols." The latter were mass produced for $1.72 each and dropped to resistance fighters during World War II.
"Some of the very same techniques used during World War II are being used in Afghanistan today," said Toni Hiley, curator of the exhibit and of the CIA museum at Langley, though she declined to elaborate.
Spy gadgets from the other side are on display as well, including a replica of a large wooden seal of the United States that was a gift from the Soviet Union to Moscow's U.S. Embassy in 1945. It hung over the ambassador's desk for seven years before the listening device was discovered.
Many of the gadgets used by the Soviet Union and the United States look remarkably similar.
But one device CIA officials said they never had was a version of the KGB's umbrella that was used by an unknown assailant to kill Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London in 1978. A model of the umbrella is part of the display.
The pinnacle of the display, Mr. Salvetti said, is the leather binder in which the president receives his daily intelligence reports. Until the early 1990s, the very existence of such briefings was classified.
The empty binder is on loan from the White House for the duration of the exhibit, which runs until July 14.


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